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The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Food Coloring

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Red food coloring is a common ingredient in many recipes, from cakes and cookies to frostings and candies.

While it is easy to find in the grocery store, some people may be concerned about the safety of artificial food dyes.

Others may simply prefer to use natural ingredients in their cooking.

Fortunately, there are several options for substituting red food coloring.

In this article, we will explore the five best substitutes for red food coloring.

What’s Red Food Coloring?

Red food coloring has been around for centuries, and its origin can be traced back to ancient Greece.

The first recorded use of red food coloring was in a recipe for a crimson dye, which was used to color cloth and wood.

Today, red food coloring is most commonly made from synthetic dyes, but it can also be derived from natural sources like beets and strawberries.

So why is red food coloring used so widely? One reason is that it is highly versatile and can be used to create a wide range of colors, from bright pink to deep purple.

Additionally, red food coloring is relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

This food coloring can be found in a variety of products, including candy, cake mix, frosting, and ice cream.

It can also be used to make homemade play dough or slime.

To get the most intense color, it is best to add the food coloring gradually until you reach the desired shade.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Food Coloring

If you’re looking for a way to add a bit of color to your food but you want to avoid artificial dyes, there are plenty of natural alternatives that can be used in place of red food coloring.

Here are five of the best substitutes for red food coloring:

1 – Pure Beet Juice

Beet juice is a surprisingly versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes.

When used in moderation, it can add a pleasantly earthy flavor to soups and stews.

However, its real strength lies in its ability to mimic the color of red food coloring.

Since pure beet juice is free of artificial dyes and other additives, it’s a great way to add a splash of color to frostings and other desserts without compromising flavor.

To substitute beet juice for red food coloring, simply add a few drops at a time until the desired color is achieved.

2 – Beet Powder

Beet powder is a type of food coloring that is made from beets.

It is a natural alternative to synthetic food colorings, and it can be used to add color to a variety of foods and beverages.

There are several reasons why you might want to use beet powder instead of red food coloring.

First, beet powder is less likely to cause allergic reactions than synthetic food colorings.

Second, beet powder does not contain any artificial ingredients or preservatives.

Finally, beet powder is a natural source of antioxidants and other nutrients.

If you would like to substitute beet powder for red food coloring, you can do so by adding the powder to the food or beverage that you are trying to color.

You may need to experiment with the amount of beet powder that you use in order to achieve the desired color.

3 – Pure Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is a natural red food coloring that can be used in place of synthetic dyes.

The benefits of using pomegranate juice include the fact that it is natural and does not contain any chemicals or additives.

Additionally, pomegranate juice can be used to add a subtle flavor to food.

When substituting pomegranate juice for red food coloring, it is important to use a less concentrated form of the juice so that the flavor of the food is not altered.

Pomegranate juice can be found at most grocery stores in the fruit section.

4 – Boiled Cranberries

Cranberries are small, red berries that are often used in Thanksgiving recipes.

They can also be used to make a delicious sauce.

But what many people don’t know is that boiled cranberries can also be used as a natural food coloring.

Cranberries contain a substance called anthocyanin, which is what gives them their red color.

When cranberries are boiled, this substance is released into the water, making it a vibrant red color.

This makes boiled cranberries an excellent natural alternative to synthetic food colorings.

And unlike some artificial colorings, boiled cranberries will not alter the flavor of your food.

So if you’re looking for a natural way to add some red color to your dishes, give boiled cranberries a try.

5 – Dried Hibiscus Flowers

Dried hibiscus flowers, also known as sorrel or Jamaican sorrel, are a popular ingredient in teas, jams, and other culinary creations.

The vibrant red color of the petals is what makes it so popular as a natural food coloring.

Hibiscus flowers can be used to add color to a dish without adding any flavor.

For example, if you want to make a red velvet cake but don’t want the flavor of beets, you can use hibiscus flowers as a substitute for the red food coloring.

To do this, simply add a few teaspoons of dried hibiscus flowers to your recipe.

The key is to use enough so that the color is rich and vibrant but not so much that it overpowers the other flavors in the cake.

With a little experimentation, you can easily find the perfect balance for your own red velvet cake recipe.


In conclusion, there are several natural alternatives to artificial food colorings, such as beet juice, beet powder, pure pomegranate juice, boiled cranberries, and dried hibiscus flowers.

Each of these options offers its own unique benefits, such as being free from chemicals or preserving the flavor of a recipe.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to synthetic food colorings, give one of these natural alternatives a try.

You may be surprised by the vibrant colors and delicious flavors that you can achieve with these natural options.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Food Coloring

Recipe by Andrew Gray Course: Substitutes


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  • Pure Beet Juice

  • Beet Powder

  • Pure Pomegranate Juice

  • Boiled Cranberries

  • Dried Hibiscus Flowers


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.

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